Criterion Year Week 7: The Silence of the Lambs

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Week 7:

The Silence of the Lambs

Spine Number: 13

Director: Jonathan Demme

Genre: Psychological Thriller/Serial Killer

Movies and TV shows love to feature serial killers. Just love them to bits. And why shouldn't they? I mean, from a writing standpoint, it's kind of a slam dunk. Someone is killing a bunch of people, the killer has an identifiable modus operandi (or M.O. in movie/TV speak), and there is a built in ticking clock. Plus, it allows you to work with criminal profilers. Those people are basically magic. They can look at a crime and know everything about the killer and through their, often dangerous, mental journeys into the abyss they will find a way to stop the killer and save themselves from the demons within. I mean... the genre has everything.

Well... it does if you don't really sweat things like "accuracy."

The truth is, serial killers don't fit into neat little boxes. Yes, they have patterns that they follow, but they aren't grandiose and showy. Yes, some have been, but by and large a serial killer is driven by a need, a compulsion, and their killings are more of a symptom, to quote Hannibal Lector the killings themselves are "incidental."

Profilers on the other hand are far from magic. They are highly trained behavioral scientists who function to narrow the field. They don't magic psychic the information, rather they analyze the facts and get the basics of who the killer is in an effort to find them. White male, no steady work, physically powerful, owns a home, has an abusive background, has probably tried to get gender reassignment surgery... that sort of thing. They look at the behavior and figure out what "type" of person would commit the crime in question so that resources can be focused.


The Silence of the Lambs bu Thomas Harris is the second in a series of serial killer/criminal profiler books and movies that introduced the world to Hannibal Lector, a pure psychopath who "fits no known criminal profile." A brilliant surgeon and psychiatrist who tortured, killed, and ate countless victims. He's a fascinating character rendered... almost maudlin in some of the adaptations.

Not here.

Here is the portrayal that not only made the character iconic, but elevated Anthony Hopkins to the stardom he enjoys today. It is one of three films to win the big five awards at the Oscars (actress, actor, picture, director, and screenplay).

So, join us as we discuss how serial killers and profilers are portrayed in film, and the world of Thomas Harris's FBI in The Silence of the Lambs and beyond.

Next week:

Spine Number 26: The Long Good Friday

Also, check this out.
Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.
It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.
You have an 8 screen theater.
Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.
Then you compete against other theaters in your league.
It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

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E-mail us at and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

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Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

Jim out.

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